Between Paranoia And A Hard Place

Iranian nuclear chief Fereydun Abbasi-Davani declared that “”terrorists and saboteurs might have intruded the agency and might be making decisions covertly” in reference to an incident on Aug. 17 when power lines to the underground enrichment facility at Fordo were cut the day before a surprise inspection was sought by the International Atomic Energy Agency:

“‘Does this visit have any connection to that detonation? Who other than the IAEA inspectors can have access to the complex in such a short time?’

‘It should be recalled that power cut-off is one of the ways to break down centrifuge machines,’ he added, referring to the equipment used to increase the proportion of fissile uranium-235 atoms within uranium.”

The IAEA dodged his charge – a move which probably appeared suspicious to Tehran – while Abbas-Davani’s accusation was dismissed as dishonest:

“Western diplomats privately dismissed the Iranian allegations against the IAEA as an attempt to divert attention from Tehran’s stonewalling of the agency’s inquiry.

‘Iran’s accusations against the IAEA are a new low. Increasingly cornered, they are lashing out wildly,’ said nuclear proliferation expert Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies think-tank.”

It’s possible Abbasi-Davani’s remarks reflect the Islamic Republic’s irritation with the IAEA’s increasingly critical stance against Iran’s nuclear program. Just three days ago, the board of the UN watchdog issued a resolution condemning the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program – a resolution that included Tehran’s traditional backers Russia and China.

Or, he could be relying on precedent.

That precedent possibly was the use of the United Nations Special Commission, or Unscom by the CIA as a cover for intelligence gathering on sites in Iraq while looking for the weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist. The Guardian reported in 1999:

American espionage in Iraq, under cover of United Nations weapons inspections, went far beyond the search for banned arms and was carried out without the knowledge of the UN leadership, it was reported yesterday.

An investigation by the Washington Post found that CIA engineers working as UN technicians installed antennae in equipment belonging to the UN Special Commission (Unscom) to eavesdrop on the Iraqi military. When British intelligence asked what was going on, the operation was denied, the report said.

US government officials refused to comment on the report yesterday.

In response to newspaper allegations of espionage in January, the US conceded that it had deployed eavesdropping equipment in an operation codenamed Shake the Tree, but insisted that it was done at the invitation of Unscom with the sole aim of foiling Saddam Hussein’s attempts to conceal weapons of mass destruction.

But according to yesterday’s report, quoting unnamed US sources, the “remote monitoring system” Unscom used to relay video pictures of suspected weapons sites to inspectors in Baghdad was secretly used to intercept communications between Iraqi commanders and military units.

Richard Butler, the Australian diplomat who runs Unscom, was reportedly kept in the dark about the CIA operation, as was his predecessor, Rolf Ekeus.

But the Washington Post quoted “sources in Washington” as saying that the CIA notified Charles Duelfer, a US official who served as deputy to both Mr Ekeus and Mr Butler, to ensure that Unscom inspectors in Iraq did not interfere with the operation.”

The Islamic Republic is well-known for its paranoia and using conspiracy theories to avoid its own political short-comings , most especially when dealing with internal uprisings that it tried blaming solely on outside interference. But given the numerous assassinations of nuclear scientists, terrorist operations emanating from U.S. soil, or threats of a U.S./Israeli attack, one cannot simply dismiss his remarks as simulated paranoia for diplomatic gain when they have their neighbor’s experiences under similar circumstances to consider.

Not to mention Abbasi-Davani’s own personal experience:

Mr Abbasi was himself wounded when a motorcyclist attached a bomb to his car in Tehran in November 2010, on the same day as another scientist was killed by this method.”

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Fight The Real Enemy

It would be refreshing to see Muslim mobs protest and riot at U.S. embassies over drone strikes that claim the lives of many innocent Muslim civilians.

In Yemen, for example, on Sept. 3 a strike targeting Al-Qaeda suspects killed 13 civilians; or on May 17 when a dozen Yemeni civilians were killed, as part of a joint American-Yemeni counterinsurgency against an Islamist rebellion in the south of the country. Then there’s the massive civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where already in 2010 one of every three casualties were civilian – a consequence of the increased usage of drone strikes from the previous administration.

But they didn’t. And they didn’t attack them over the suicide of Guantanamo Bay detainee Adnan Latif, who was found innocent and was supposed to be released in 2010, but was kept in the camp Obama promised in 2008 to close, a promise he later reneged.

Instead, mobs in Libya and Egypt attacked American embassies over a low-budget anti-Muslim movie called “The Innocence Of Muslims,” with the violence spreading to other Muslim countries as I write this – the violence beginning on Sept. 11, no less. The entire episode is reminiscent of the Muhammad cartoons published in a Danish newspaper in Sept. 2005 that sparked riots throughout the Muslim world.

Then – as now – Muslims were up in arms over a series of cartoons while far worse things were going on, like the occupation of Iraq, for example. There’s no comparison: on the one hand, the occupation already claimed at least “24,865 civilians were reported killed in the first two years,” (months before the cartoons were published) of which “US-led forces killed 37% of civilian victims” and “air strikes caused most (64%) of the explosives deaths,” according to research conducted by Iraq Body Count between March 2003 and March 2005.

On the other hand, cartoons. Yeah.

This isn’t to say that Muslims weren’t pissed off at the illegal and immoral invasion; Muslims joined anti-war protests that occurred across the world when the coalition of the willing crossed into Iraq. But the flames of popular outrage and militancy was channeled and confined to Al-Qaeda and sectarian terrorism, and an anti-occupation movement was as absent there as it was in the West … which leads to the obvious question – why do Muslims become more outraged over symbolic affronts to Islam than real-world trampling of the lives and dignity of Muslims?

The answer lies in Islamism, bolstered by conservative societies. The protests have largely been organized by Islamist groups in order to increase their presence and gain political strength. In Egypt, for example:

“Hours before the Benghazi attack, hundreds of mainly ultraconservative Islamist protesters in Egypt marched to the U.S. Embassy in downtown Cairo, gathering outside its walls and chanting against the movie and the U.S. Most of the embassy staff had left the compound earlier because of warnings of the upcoming demonstration.

‘Say it, don’t fear: Their ambassador must leave,’ the crowd chanted.

Dozens of protesters then scaled the embassy walls, and several went into the courtyard and took down the American flag from a pole. They brought it back to the crowd outside, which tried to burn it, but failing that tore it apart.

The protesters on the wall then raised on the flagpole a black flag with a Muslim declaration of faith, “There is no god but God and Muhammad is his prophet.” The flag, similar to the banner used by al-Qaida, is commonly used by ultraconservatives around the region.

The crowd grew throughout the evening with thousands standing outside the embassy. Dozens of riot police lined up along the embassy walls but did not stop protesters as they continued to climb and stand on the wall – though it appeared no more went into the compound.

The crowd chanted, ‘Islamic, Islamic. The right of our prophet will not die.’ Some shouted, ‘We are all Osama,’ referring to al-Qaida leader bin Laden. Young men, some in masks, sprayed graffiti on the walls. Some grumbled that Islamist President Mohammed Morsi had not spoken out about the movie.”
Here’s what happened in Tunisia, the site of the Arab Spring’s first uprising :

“Several thousand people battled with Tunisian security forces outside the U.S. Embassy in Tunis. Protesters rained stones on police firing tear gas and shooting into the air. Some protesters scaled the embassy wall and stood on top of it, planting the Islamist flag that has become a symbol of the wave of protests: A black banner with the Islamic profession of faith, ‘There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.'”

In Pakistan:

Some 350 activists from Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, a student wing of the hardline Sunni party Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), staged a separate demonstration, blocking a main road by setting fire to tyres and burning a US flag, an AFP reporter said.”

Hezbollah’s chief Hassan Nasrallah made his first public appearance since the Israeli attack in 2006 to address a massive crowd in Beirut:

“He said the world did not understand the ‘breadth of the humiliation’ caused by the ‘worst attack ever on Islam'”. 

(Really? Worse than the 2006 attack on your country that claimed over a thousand civilian lives?)

And in Latif’s homeland, Yemen:

“Hundreds converged Thursday on the U.S. Embassy in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, which is heavily barricaded because of past al-Qaida-linked attacks on the compound. Yemeni guards at checkpoints on roads leading up to the compound did nothing to stop the crowd, said Ahmed Darwish, a witness who was at the scene.

The crowd swarmed over embassy’s entrance gate. Men with iron bars smashed the thick, bullet-proof glass windows of the entrance building while others clambered up the wall. Some ripped the embassy’s sign off the outer wall.

Inside the compound grounds, they brought down the American flag in the courtyard and replaced it with a black banner bearing Islam’s declaration of faith — ‘There is no God but Allah.’ They did not enter the main building housing the embassy’s offices, some distance away from the entry reception. Demonstrators set tires ablaze and pelted the compound with rocks.”
In many cases, such as in Algeria, Islamists have demanded that the U.S. circumvent the Constitution and ban the film, which no one even knew about until Islamists got aggro.Such a stance seemingly gives credibility to anti-Muslim activists

The film’s bigoted anti-Muslim stance is apparent for all to see, as it connects the actions of Islamists – in Egypt, in this instance – portraying the Prophet Muhammad as a murderer, tyrant, over sexed, child molester and a homosexual. It’s a way of presenting Islamism an inevitable and honest expression with broader Islam, a conflation justifying bigotry and colonialism by removing any moral counterweight to such objectionable concepts – a key premise underlying right-wing anti-Muslim activism. A full expose of these right-wing forces behind the film’s production and distribution reveals the intent of fomenting trouble by inciting Muslims to promote a Christian supremacist and pro-Israel agenda.

But the secret to their success lies in large part in the actions of Muslims; success that Islamists seem willing to enable as part of an unspoken alliance. Anti-Muslim propaganda and prejudice will always be there in one form or another, so the real question is how is it to be defeated – a question Islamism cannot answer because it’s part of the problem given life on 9/11/01 and renewed on 9/11/12.

What the film’s producers/distributors and the Islamist mobs have in common with each other is a commitment to a reactionary and theocratic agenda. This commonality means that no movement against the kind of Islamophobia promoted in the film has any chance of success unless it also includes an opposition to Islamism as well; one can’t exist without the other, and they can only be defeated by a progressive secularist movement and not by idiot mobs.

Update: 9/21/12

In order to counter anti-Muslim perceptions of irrationality that have filtered through the internet – and hence the collective consciousness – two pieces appeared on liberal left sites that sought to shed light on why Muslims were really angry. Unfortunately, the authors fall short of doing what they set out to do.

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern wrote in the Consortium News:

“Broad hints can be seen in the Washington Post’s coverage over recent days – including a long piece by its Editorial Board, ‘Washington’s role amid the Mideast struggle for power,’ published the same day Ajami’s article appeared online.

What the two have in common is that the word ‘Israel’ appears in neither piece. One wonders how and why the Post‘s editors could craft a long editorial on the “Mideast struggle for power” — and give editorial prominence to Ajami’s article — without mentioning Israel.

Presumably because the Post’s readers aren’t supposed to associate the fury on the Arab ‘street’ with anger felt by the vast majority Arabs over what they see as U.S. favoritism toward Israel and neglect for the plight of the Palestinians. The Israeli elephant, with the antipathy and resentment its policies engender, simply cannot be allowed into the discussion.”

Jeff Sparrow reached back into British colonial history to understand the riots today:

“In 1857, Bengali soldiers (known as ‘sepoys’) shot their British officers and marched upon Delhi. The Great Indian Rebellion became very violent, very quickly. The rebels massacred prisoners, including women and children; the British put down the revolt with a slaughter of unprecedented proportions.

Now, that rebellion began when the troops learned that their cartridges, designed to be torn open with their teeth, would be greased with beef and pork fat, an offence to the religious sensibilities of Hindus and Muslims alike. Had Twitter been an invention of the Victorian era, London sophisticates would, no doubt, have LOLed to each other (#sepoyrage!) about the credulity of dusky savages so worked up about a little beef tallow. Certainly, that was how the mouthpieces of the East India Company spun events: in impeccably Dawkinesque terms, they blamed ‘Hindoo prejudice’ for the descent of otherwise perfectly contented natives into rapine and slaughter.

But no serious historian today takes such apologetics seriously. Only the most determined ignoramus would discuss 1857 in isolation from the broader context of British occupation. In form, the struggle might have been religious; in content, it embodied a long-simmering opposition to colonial rule.”

There’s some truth in these assertions, but it’s not the whole truth. The U.S. has been bankrolling Israeli apartheid for decades, yet it wasn’t the latest outrage from Netanyahu that sparked the protests; likewise, American neocolonialism laid the ground work for the riots and violence, but the British insensitivity that sparked the Sepoy Rebellion can’t be compared to the film trailer because it was a governmental action – unlike the film, which was produced by an obscure Islamophobe and convicted felon unconnected with Washington.

Now, if the film was produced by the U.S. military and distributed in Afghanistan – followed by rioting in Kabul – then the Sepoy comparison would hold. But that obviously didn’t happen; instead the world saw Islamist mobs expending considerable energy and anger over the depiction of the Prophet Muhammad, instead of more pressing concerns like the death of Adnan Latif. Attacking racism and colonialism as the underlying cause of these riots is understandable, but ignoring the Islamist elephant in the room not only distorts analysis of anti-Muslim bigotry, it cedes territory to the Islamophobes and guarantees them legitimacy – which ultimately defeats the purpose of defeating them.

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These Are The Signs Of The Times

The New York Times reported that 10 years after the brutal sectarian pogrom in Gujarat, there’s a ray of hope that the victims will get justice:

“India was once the world’s wellspring of religiously inspired massacres. As such violence rages across the Middle East, the bougainvillea sprouting from Gujarat’s charred buildings offers hope that even societies steeped in blood can curb the self-perpetuating logic behind such clashes.”

But is there hope that the truth about the cause of those riots can be effectively conveyed by the Times? Not likely:

“The riots began on Feb. 27, 2002, when a train filled with Hindu pilgrims who had just visited a disputed shrine rolled into Godhra, a small city in eastern Gujarat, and was attacked by a Muslim mob. A fire started, and at least 58 Hindu pilgrims burned to death. Their charred bodies were brought to Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s largest city, and laid out in public, an act that all but guaranteed more violence. Huge mobs gathered to view the bodies.”

So the carnage began when Muslims attacked a trainload of innocent Hindu pilgrims … because they were Hindu, right? It’s precisely the same narrative used by Hindu fundamentalists to whip up the frenzy that killed nearly a thousand people. The Times isn’t a fundamentalist newspaper that shares the goals of Hindu supremacy – so why would it parrot that movement’s worldview?

It’s a rhetorical question – the Times, as a corporate media outlet that essentially shares the goals of American neocolonialism and as such distorts the news in its favor and otherwise gets things wrong, as I’ve noted elsewhere on this blog.

But apart from that bias in favor of the empire, this distortion is a curious one – in that it ignores a key cause of the pogrom and reinforces the false paradigm of “evil Muslims versus the rest of the world” that’s the domain of the anti-Muslim far right. Most likely it was done in the name of “objectivity” – that tradition in American journalism that seeks to detach the coverage of events from any sort of bias, yet at best, the more a paper runs from any sort of bias, the more it can end up reinforcing it – as the Times piece demonstrated.

What the article left out was the exact identity of the “pilgrims” that were on the train. They were a varied group, but included among them were Kar Sevaks, or Hindu devotees. It’s a broad term, but it’s generally synonymous with Hindu fundamentalism and sectarianism, and are associated with the destruction of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya Dec. 1992 which sparked sectarian riots that claimed 2,000 lives – a fact the mob that greeted the pilgrims were no doubt aware. In addition, Kar Sevaks on the train were engaged in provocations, as Dr. Muqtedar Khan noted on his blog:

“The karsevaks, who happened to be very unsavory characters, were indulging in atrocious behavior on the train. They were exposing themselves to women, harassing Muslim women and robbing petty shopkeepers all along the journey. Their reputation preceded them to Godhra and there when they refused to pay for the snacks they consumed they were attacked by Muslim youth and the altercation ended in the gruesome burning of the train in which innocent women and children were also brunt to death.”

This doesn’t the passengers – especially the children – deserved to die. Whoever set the train on fire are scum and deserved to be punished. But to characterize it as a “mob” versus “pilgrims” distorts the context in which this tragedy occurred. What happened on that train platform wasn’t good versus evil, but two variations of evil, the latter of which is Hindu supremacy, or Hindutva; the ideology the Kar Sevaks and the pogromists had in common.

This supremacist ideology was on display during an observance of the pogrom’s 10th anniversary:

“The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Monday paid tributes to kar sevaks killed in the Godhra carnage on the 10th anniversary of the incident. Announcing that VHP will start public movement against Jehadi terror, VHP’s international general secretary Pravin Togadia called upon all the Hindus for social and economic boycott of the jihadis as part of his campaign called “HinduSthan against Terror’. Togadia also implored people to recognise politicians who are hungry for Muslim votes and teach them a lesson.”

Yes, ignore Muslim votes –  that would be democratic. Nowhere was there any expression of remorse for the Muslims that died or for inciting Hindus to attack innocent Muslims – because they’re all jihadis. It’s the same ideologically structured sense of “victim-hood” that was the driving force behind the pogrom is also the core component of Hindutva supremacist ideology – which the Times promoted, albeit unwittingly.

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The Chutzpah Of It All

What kind of democracy bans a poet for penning verse critical of that democracy’s plans to attack another country that technically poses no threat to said democracy? Oh yeah, the only one in the Middle East.

As the BBC reported:

“Israel has declared the German author Guenter Grass ‘persona non grata’ and barred him from entering the country.

Grass, a Nobel laureate, recently criticised Israel in a poem.

In it, Grass condemned German arms sales to Israel, and said the Jewish state must not be allowed to launch military strikes against Iran.

Israeli interior minister Eli Yishai says Grass is not welcome because he has tried ‘to inflame hatred against the State and people of Israel.’

Yishai, the leader of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish party in Israel’s coalition government, suggested that Grass should go to Iran, ‘where he would find a sympathetic audience should he want to continue disseminating his warped and mendacious work.'”

The controversial poem, called “What Must be Said,” is more commentary than poetry (which shows how much I know about poetry) about the perils of Israel attacking Iran over the latter’s alleged nuclear weapons program. It doesn’t call for wiping Israel off the map, nor does it contain anything hateful towards Jewish people – remarkable for someone who once served in the Waffen SS during WWII. Instead, it’s a work filled with anguish over Israel’s threatened attack on Iran from the perspective of a German struggling to voice his observation under the burden of history and manipulation of that history to suit Israeli interests:

“The general silence about these facts, which my silence has been subordinated to, feels like an incriminating lie and constraint, which promises penalty as soon as revealed; the common verdict: ‘anti-Semitism’.

But now, because originating from my country, which is time after time caught-up, and obliged to justify itself, for it’s very own and unprecedented crimes , now again on a pure commercial basis, even though declared with fast tounge as reparation, another submarine shall be delivered to Israel, with the specialty of delivering annihilating warheads to where the existence of one single nuclear bomb is unproven, but used as a scarecrow of fear of evidence, I say what must be said.”

Grass sees a crime unfolding with German complicity; rather than using history to learn lessons, it’s used instead to justify aiding Israel’s own crimes:

“Why do I only say now, aged and with last ink: The nuclear power Israel threatens the already brittle world peace? Because it must be said, what tomorrow could already be too late; also because we – as Germans already heavily cumbered – could become suppliers to a predictable crime, and none of the usual excuses could erase our complicity this time.”

Lastly, the work is from the perspective of an artist who admires Israel and is concerned not only about the impact of an Israeli airstrike on relations between Israel and the Palestinians, but the impact such an attack will have on the rest of the world:

“Only this way, Israelis, Palestinians, and even more everybody who is living face to face as enemies in this region occupied by delusion and craziness, and last not least ourselves, can be helped.”

This is the man Israel has banned from its borders – for expressing his opinion. The question naturally is, why now? What took Israel six years after Grass confessed his Nazi past to bar him entry? Ofer Aderet asked this same question in the pages of Ha’aretz:

“To sum it up, if Israel wanted too, it could have forbidden Grass from entering the country years ago. Yishai’s declaration simply smacks of populism.”

Perhaps, but the real issue goes beyond political opportunism; the real issue is not only whether a so-called democracy like Israel can bar those from entry who dare to oppose in any form their immoral polices, but whether Israelis even have the right to condemn anyone who once had a Nazi past. The Jewish state was established as a safe haven for Jews in the aftermath of the Holocaust, but both pre-state Zionism and Israel – before and after Grass donned an SS uniform – have a history of collaborating and sustaining antisemitic regimes and former Nazi sympathizers.

The assumption that Zionism is an anti-racist movement – insofar as antisemitism is concerned – is part of the official mythology surrounding Israel’s founding and is its ideological rationale, yet far from being an antidote to this prejudice, Zionism has sought accommodation with it as a means of realizing the goal of a Jewish state, in two ways; first, as a way to gain Jewish support for Zionism – if there’s no persecution of Jews, then Jews have no reason to leave their homes and settle in Palestine. Second, collaboration with antisemitic regimes enabled the Zionist movement – both Labor and Revisionist factions – to cut deals for financial gain, population exchange and to act as the official arbiter between the Jewish and non-Jewish worlds … all at the expense of the Jewish people they claim to represent.

The most notorious example of this was the Ha’avara Agreement in 1933, where mainstream Zionism undercut the international anti-Nazi boycott in exchange for 60,000 German Jews and their assets, even setting up trade between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine – an arrangement that allowed the Nazi regime to survive.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Since Israel’s creation, Tel Aviv has continued this policy of partnership with antisemitic regimes. One such example was the Argentine military dictatorship, infamous for its “dirty war” that claimed 30,000 lives, including thousands of Jews. According to the Guardian:

Nazi ideology permeated the military and security forces during the country’s dictatorship. Recordings of Hitler’s speeches were played during torture sessions.

‘I remember when I was arrested in 1977 there was a giant swastika painted on the wall at the federal police central headquarters where I was interrogated,’ said Robert Cox, the British former editor of the English-language Buenos Aires Herald.

The Argentine rabbi Daniel Goldman, who was expected to fly to Madrid this week to testify before Mr Garzán, hopes the report will help the Jewish community come to terms with the dictatorship. ‘While it cannot be said there was an open plan for the elimination of Jews, there cannot be any doubt now that captured Jews were singled out for special punishment,’ he said.

Some generals were obsessed with the ‘Jewish question’, including the chief of the Buenos Aires police, General Ramon Camps. He arrested Jacobo Timerman, the editor of the daily newspaper La Opinion. After months of torture Mr Timerman was stripped of his citizenship and expelled – his life saved only by diplomatic pressure from the US government.”

The anti-Jewish sentiment in the junta was so apparent that two international Jewish groups were requesting help from the Brazilian and American governments in case of mass evacuation. While this was going on, the Jewish state carried on with business as usual, selling arms to Buenos Aires, maintaining relations with the regime and otherwise doing nothing to help.

Frederick H. Gareau wrote in his 2004 book, State Terrorism and the United States, that even as Washington reduced its aid during the dirty war, its allies continued to sell arms to the junta worth billions:

“‘Notable among the suppliers was Israel. Argentina became Israel’s largest South American customer, accounting for over 30 percent of Israeli weapons,’ he wrote. ‘Given a choice between immorality and business, Israel chose the latter. Not only was this reprehensible, it’s also typical; through out its history, Israel has collaborated with many anti-Semitic and Nazi-inspired governments and organizations to serve its political and economic needs.'”

Even the Israelis are aware of this betrayal. Then-MK Yossi Sarid of the left-leaning Meretz party confirmed this relationship back in 2003:

The Knesset yesterday unanimously approved a decision demanding that Argentina extradite to Israel those Argentina colonels and generals involved in mass killings during the country’s military dictatorship from 1976-1983 so that they can be put on trial. Just 19 MKs were present for the debate.

MK Yossi Sarid (Meretz) proposed the move, saying that it was a ‘hypocritical discussion since all the facts have long been known and the government of Israel never once lifted a finger and cooperated with the Argentine murders because of their interest in arms deals.'”

Also in the 1970s, the Jewish state’s collaboration with Apartheid South Africa, which began in 1976 during the administration of B.J. Vorster. Vorster was a Nazi sympathizer; he and the head of the infamous Bureau Of Security Services Hendrik van den Bergh were members of the pro-Nazi Ossewa Brandwag during WWII. Despite this – and the regime’s white supremacist ideology – the Israelis provided a conduit for corporations to bypass sanctions, sold weapons used to crackdown on anti-Apartheid opposition and even offered to sell and develop Jericho ground to ground missiles to Pretoria – missiles with a nuclear capability.

What could possibly have been the basis for such a relationship? The architect of South African Apartheid H.F. Verwoerd once summed it up this way:

“The Jews took Israel from the Arabs after the Arabs had lived there for a thousand years. Israel like South Africa, is an apartheid state.”

Last but not least is Israel’s support of the Lebanese Phalange. The Phalange was founded after Pierre Gemayel attended the 1936 Berlin Olympics and was inspired by the Third Reich. It was (and still is) a fascist organization, yet Israel supported it as far back as the period between 1948-51, according to Gilbert Achcar in his book, Arabs And The Holocaust. This didn’t stop the Jewish state from using the Phalange to pursue its hegemonic designs on Lebanon; they armed, trained and facilitated the Sabra/Shatilla massacre in 1982, where their fascist allies butchered thousands of mainly Muslim Palestinians and Lebanese civilians.

Guenter Grass should have come clean about his SS past sooner and his equating the Holocaust with the fate of German POWs is both unjustified and absurd. But Grass is neither an antisemite nor even right-wing – he has been a prominent supporter of many left-wing causes, evident in his left-leaning literary work for over five decades since WWII. In other words, fascism and the elimination of Jews are not his goal – quite the opposite, in fact.

In this context, Grass’s brief membership in the German military pales in comparison to this systematic policy of collaboration and betrayal of the Jewish people; if a German poet can be banned and publicly castigated for opposing an Israeli attack on Iran, then what appropriate measures should be taken against such a criminal system – one that is guilty of betraying  Jews and the continuing crimes against Palestinians?

Nuremberg-style trials comes to mind; and hopefully, in our lifetime.

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Spoiled Rotten

Israel often reminds me of a spoiled child that’s a little too used to getting what it wants. The Jewish state’s recent refusal to co-operate with the UN’s Human Rights Council is one such example.

According to the BBC:

“The foreign ministry has reportedly told its envoy in Geneva not to co-operate with the council or with UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay.

It will also prevent a UN team entering Israel to assess the effects of settlements on Palestinian rights.

Last week, Israel said the decision to establish the probe was ‘surrealistic’.”

What is surrealistic is that Israel is so afraid of scrutiny by an organization that they refuse to cooperate with it despite that organization’s lack of power. It’s not as if any new information will be learned about the occupation, nor will change occur. Israel did the same thing when the UN wanted to investigate atrocities in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, even though an investigation found out the truth. So what is Israel afraid of exactly?

Israeli commentator Zvi Bar’el put forth a possible reason in his Ha’aretz column:

The committee is feared in Israel because it will prove once again that Israel is not alone. Sri Lanka, Iran, China, Syria, Russia and Libya also abhor the UN Human Rights Council. On Saturday Russia announced it was rejecting the council’s decision concerning Syria because it is “one-sided” and because it does not also place blame on the Syrian opposition for the killing and the violations of human rights. This is a formulation quite similar to the Israeli one explaining why it will not cooperate with the committee. “Don’t even answer a phone call from the committee,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has ordered its representatives. Diplomatic heroism? Standing steadfast in face of the enemy? Doubtful. Apparently the Israeli aversion testifies more than anything else to the fact that stateless Palestinians have succeeded in establishing an interlocking system of weapons against Israel: the more the different agencies of the UN adopt Palestine as a state, the more Israel will remove itself from the organization. It’s a zero sum game.”

Naturally, Israel has nothing to fear as long as its patron – the United States – continues its dedicated bipartisan support. Washington is firmly opposed to a Palestinian state, even going  so far as pulling funding from UNESCO because it granted Palestine membership. It’s continued military funding will help ensure the Jewish state to continue as the Middle East’s premier military power and both countries share the same goal of opposing Iran’s “nuclear threat.”

In addition, the European Union has also sided with Israel, canceling oil contracts with the Islamic Republic and voting with the U.S. in the UN for sanctions, while Japan has pledged to significantly cut Iranian oil imports – all because of a nuclear weapons program that both the American and Israeli intelligence communities agree Tehran does not currently possess.

It’s an act of international solidarity for a country that regularly defies international law in the name of holding another country accountable to that law – even though that country, Iran, is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty while Israel is not, despite having the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

It’s no wonder then that Israel both fears the UN and blows it off as irrelevant. After being coddled for so long and used to getting what it wants, temper tantrums like this are inevitable.

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Emo Killaz

Iraq is a country with a tragic history of occupation, neocolonial aggression, fascist dictatorship and mass murder. Thanks to the U.S. occupation of Iraq that began in 2003 and “ended” last year, the next phase of Iraq’s history is fundamentalist dictatorship, as the murders of 100 Iraqi “emo” youths demonstrate:

“A group of armed men dressed in civilian clothing led dozens of teenagers to secluded areas a few days ago, stoned them to death, and then disposed their bodies in garbage dumpsters across the capital, according to activists, activists told the Cairo-based al-Akhbar website.

The armed men are said to belong to ‘one of the most extremist religious groups’ in Iraq.

‘First they throw concrete blocks at the boy’s arms, then at his legs, then the final blow is to his head, and if he is not dead then, they start all over again,’ one person who managed to escape told Al-Akhbar.

Iraq’s moral police was granted approval by the Ministry of Education to enter Baghdad schools and pinpoint students with such appearances, according to the interior ministry’s statement.

The exact death toll remains unclear, but Hana al-Bayaty of Brussels Tribunal, an NGO dealing with Iraqi issues, said the current figure ranges ‘between 90 and 100.'”

The group responsible for the killings is called the “Brigades of Anger” and their stomping ground is the poor, Shi’ite enclave of Baghdad called Sadr City – named after the Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr, a prominent Shia cleric assassinated by Saddam Hussein’s regime and the father of Muqtada al-Sadr, the founder of the Mahdi Army, a militia that rose up against the U.S. occupation and was responsible for mass sectarian murders.

Al-Sadr’s party, called the Al-Sadr Movement (good name choice) advocates an extreme Shi’ite fundamentalism reminiscent of Iran in the 1980s when Khomeini was utilizing terror to cement theocratic rule, culminating in the Evin prison massacre; however, there appears to be no evidence at this time that the Sadrist movement is involved in these murders.

Whether it’s them or another militia is less important than the fact that these emo killings are sanctioned by the Interior Ministry – which overseas “security,” or state terror – an institution that was a carry over from the Saddam-era, but was effectively reorganized and restructured by the U.S. occupation. The U.S. first handed over control in 2004 to the interim government of Ayad Allawi, who was known as “Saddam Lite,” continued the same tradition of state terror, this time at the behest of Washington:

“The Iraqi Interim Government led by Prime Minister Ayad ‘Allawi and presented to the international community as a sign that the violence and abuses of the Saddam Hussein government was a thing of the past, appeared to be actively taking part, or was at least complicit, in these grave violations of fundamental human rights. “

From the election of the United Iraqi Alliance – which included the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq – in January 2005, the MOI became an instrument of terror in the hands of sectarian fundamentalists; “The victors, particularly SCIRI, saw MOI as a prize,” according to the U.S. Institute of Peace. It became an instrument of Shi’a fundamentalist power, populated with Badr Brigade soldiers under the command of SCIRI and commanded by interior ministers beholden to Shi’ite sectarian groups, first by Bayan Jabr, then by Jawad Al-Bulani and then by prime minister Nouri Al-Maliki himself. It was under the SCIRI’s control that death squads from the ministry were torturing and killing thousands of Sunnis in 2006-07, a fact known then and proven again recently by Wikileaks.

It’s also a mismanaged organization, as attested by clinching the 2009 Pigasus Award for “the funding organization that wasted the most money on pseudo-science.” This would partly explain why it’s been going to such great lengths to eradicate homosexuality – which apparently includes emo kids – in poor neighborhoods like Sadr city as a measure designed to distract from the corruption and massive inequality the U.S.-installed capitalist regime has perpetuated with devastating effect, further exacerbated by years of Ba’athist corruption and the effects of U.S. sanctions and war.

In other words, it’s your tax-dollars at work.

It’s the same process being implemented in Afghanistan and Libya, where theocrats under Washington’s control are implementing a dismal future of social control and death. It’s Islamo-fascism in action and we put them their in the name of freedom. It’s enough to make someone become emo.

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The Unfairness Doctrine

The National Federation of Israeli Journalists may sever ties with the International Federation of Journalists because of what they call the IFJ’s unfairly singling out Israel for “unfair treatment.” The Jerusalem Post reports:

“The impetus for the break comes following a communiqué sent by the IFJ to UN Secretary-General Ban Kimoon in November citing Israel as one of six countries where ‘women journalists face threats, political pressure, violence, rape and abuse either due to their gender or simply for doing their jobs.’

It looks like there are no answers and the IFJ is going back to the bad old days of working with twisted politics instead of with professionalism,’ he wrote, adding, ‘We cannot take part in a show like that.'”

How lumping Israel in with five other countries is singling it out, I’m not sure. What is for sure is that this kind of whining is typical for pro-Israel propagandists whenever someone or some group violates the sacred taboo and dares to hold the Jewish state accountable. Famed civil libertarian and torture advocate Alan Dershowitz’s absurd denunciation of the International Court of Justice’s non-binding resolution on Israel’s separation (apartheid) wall is one such example; CAMERA’s lying about an “overwhelming” pro-Arab and anti-Israel bias that supposedly exists among major media outlets like the New York Times is another one.

Zacken’s complaint is that Israel is far kinder and gentler than the other countries on the list and that the IFJ’s decision is primarily motivated by politics:

“The latest dispute between the federation and the international body was sparked when the IFJ compared Israel to countries such as Mexico, the Philippines, Somalia, Russia and Nepal, where over the past few years women journalists have been murdered or faced violent sexual assaults while doing their jobs.

While there were several recent reports of Israeli authorities harassing female journalists and even arrests of Palestinian female journalists in the past, there have been no known cases of extreme violence or deaths as a result of mistreatment.”

This was also the view of one right-wing blogger who compared the relatively benign treatment afforded female reporters in Israel with their counterparts in Egypt. The IFJ’s statement isn’t specific, but presumably their designation of Israel has to do with the treatment of New York Times photographer Lynsey Addario, who was made to go through an X-Ray machine despite telling the Israelis she was  seven months pregnant and Al-Jazeera news producer Najwa Simri, also pregnant and who was forced to undergo similar treatment.

These two miss the point – the female reporters were targeted not because they were female, but because Israel – just like the other countries – fear and loathe scrutiny. Israel has a history of attacking those that bear witness to its transgressions, like this pattern of attacks demonstrates – and this recent attack on a female French activist and a female B’Tselem volunteer.

Downplaying the Israeli incidents isn’t only a blatant and typical pro-Israel tactic … it’s a distinctly male point of view; one that seems to belittle the experiences of women who undergo these traumatic and humiliating experiences. I’m sure relativity matters little to Addario and Simri; nor would it matter to any woman that’s been in that kind of situation. Abuse is abuse, whether it’s at the brutal hands of Egyptian police, or at the hands of insensitive Israelis – or whether or not they were targeted for their gender.

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